Lance goes for seven! Coverage starts today on OLN.
Lance goes for seven! Coverage starts today on OLN.
Wow, American David Zabriskie wins the opening time trial by two seconds over Lance Armstrong. Lance is looking awfully hard to beat. His major competitors are not even close.
Four Americans in the top 6...
what a perfect finish for Lance-he's more then happy to finish 2 seconds off- (dare i say he sluffed off at the end?). This forces CSC to do all the work controlling the race (defending the yellow)thru the first week of flat stages- no need for Team Discovery to do extra work this early on.
I never considered the impact of luck, along with the planning which apparently is directed toward mitigating or outright avoidance of bad luck built into the race. Wasnt aware that being a member of the team apparently means first and foremost supporting the top dog like Armstrong, either.
Armstrong Victory Formula: Ride Fast but Dodge Disaster
By EDWARD WYATT
Published: July 2, 2005
Having survived cancer, Lance Armstrong is not the type of person to come undone because of a bee sting.
But during a recent training ride, when the bee sting was followed by a crash, a black eye, a cut above the right eyebrow and a broken helmet, Armstrong was reminded of just how lucky he has been in racing to six consecutive victories in the Tour de France.
Armstrong, who has said he will retire after this year's Tour, which opens with a prologue race today, has been hit by cars at least twice while training, and he once sustained a slight concussion during a fall.
In the most recent crash, on June 22, he avoided serious injury, just as he has in the Tour. What is often forgotten, however, is how many times Armstrong has come close to disaster, barely avoiding crashes or other mishaps that put some of his most formidable competitors out of the Tour and left others far behind.
"Close calls happen all the time, thousands and thousands of times each day," said Frankie Andreu, a former professional cyclist who rode in the Tour de France in 1999 and 2000 on the United States Postal Service team with Armstrong. He now reports during the race for OLN, the cable channel that televises the Tour de France in the United States.
Just yesterday, Jan Ullrich, one of the favorites to win the Tour, sustained minor cuts and bruises when he crashed into the rear of a car that was leading the T-Mobile team on a training run.
Armstrong is familiar with the hazards. In 1999, for example, in his return to the Tour de France after treatment for testicular cancer, the second stage of the race included a stretch across the Passage du Gois, a causeway about 2.5 miles long connecting the mainland of France to the island of Noirmoutier. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean cover the road for all but about six hours a day.
The pack of riders, known as the peloton, was about a third of the way across the causeway when one rider slipped to the pavement, which was still slick with mud. A dozen others fell like dominoes, blocking the road's two lanes for the more than 100 other riders who were behind them. Surrounded by mudflats, the pack could only wait until the fallen riders began to move.
Among those caught in the traffic jam were three of Armstrong's main rivals: Alex Zulle, Michael Boogerd and Ivan Gotti. Armstrong had made it through before the fall, among a group of about 70 riders. When those riders realized what had happened, they accelerated. By the end of the stage, some 50 miles later, Armstrong had gained six minutes on the delayed riders.
It was too much of a gap to make up, and three weeks later, Armstrong won the Tour. Zulle, who had been delayed by the crash, finished second by more than seven minutes. Armstrong could not have known there would be such a crash, but it was no accident that he and his teammates were at the front of the pack, Andreu said. The team had planned its move before the day began, aware that the causeway could be troublesome.
As the peloton sped toward the Passage at more than 30 miles an hour, Armstrong's teammates cleared a path and got him through the pack of nearly 200 riders. They rode in front of Armstrong, blocking the wind and allowing him to preserve energy, and they rode beside him, keeping other riders from bumping him.
The crash on the Passage was essentially repeated in the third stage of last year's Tour, when the route included, for the first time in two decades, two large sections of cobblestones. Armstrong's team took him onto the cobbles at the front of the pack. Farther back, a crash held up several riders, including Iban Mayo, who was considered a contender for overall victory. Mayo lost 3 minutes 48 seconds to Armstrong in the stage, all but wiping out his chance to win the Tour.
Similar battles for positioning will play out in five of the first seven stages in this year's Tour; riders will jockey to put their team's sprinters into position for the relatively flat finishes in those stages. "There is a huge emphasis on riding in the top 10 to 15 positions" in the final miles of each stage, Andreu said, "because you're less likely to crash if you're at the front of the group."
Acknowledging that the finishes of those flat stages have grown more dangerous, the Tour's governing body has changed a critical rule this year: Anyone caught in a crash in the final three kilometers of a stage will be awarded the same time as riders in the group who escaped the crash and rode on to the finish. Previously, the rule applied only to crashes in the final kilometer.
That rule came into play in each of the last two Tours. In last year's sixth stage, the riders had just begun to pass under the banner marking the final kilometer when two riders tangled, causing a pile-up. Only about 29 of the 179 riders raced to the finish, although the rest received the same time.
In 2003, a crash in the final kilometer of the first stage took down 35 riders, including Tyler Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer of the United States. Hamilton broke a collarbone but finished the Tour; Leipheimer broke a bone in his hip and was out of the race on its first full day.
During the ninth stage that year, Joseba Beloki, a Spanish rider who had finished third in 2000 and 2001 and second the previous year, crashed just in front of Armstrong while descending a hill. Armstrong swerved around him but ran off the road, into a recently mowed cornfield and down a hillside. At the bottom of the hill, he jumped off his bike and carried it across a ditch and back onto the road. He climbed back on and pedaled away. Beloki was out of the race with a broken right thigh, elbow and wrist.
"I thought for sure Lance was going to go down," said Andreu, who was following the race as a reporter. "He was lucky. Normally in the mountains, on a descent like that, there's a brick wall or a cliff at the side of the road," instead of a cornfield.
Six stages later, Armstrong crashed when his handlebar caught on a spectator's bag on a climb six miles from the finish of the stage. Armstrong was not seriously hurt, although, unknown to him, his bike sustained a hairline fracture. Nevertheless, he rode on to win the stage.
Armstrong has seemed nearly invincible during his six Tour victories, but there is no certainty that his luck will hold. Recall 2001, when Jonathan Vaughters, an American rider, made it through the first 14 stages, including the jittery first week and the climbs over the high mountains of the Alps and the Pyrenees. Then, he was stung on the eyelid by a wasp. He was out of the race the next day.
In cycling- for the most part the best riders are only as good as their team... Lance has the best team in the planet, and the best coach in the sport. every member of Team Discovery knows their role- they'll do whatever is necessary to keep Lance near the front of the peoloton (fetch water, control the pace, reel in breakaways) the french call them "domestiques".
Lance lost 2 "domestiques" this year- who were offered leadership roles on rival teams. Lance views these guys as traitors and apparently enjoys more then anything running his past teammates into the ground... a bit arrogant of him to think that all riders want to ride in his shadow for their career. but- who am i to pass judgement? he's Lance freaking Armstrong!
QuinntheEskimo - I saw that Floyd Landis left the team (can't believe he went over to Phonak) - who else? At least Hincappie stayed. :mmm I think that, knowing Lance was retiring after the Tour this year, they could have shown some loyalty and stuck around.
I don't even know who could challenge Armstrong this year. Ullrich is way past his prime and I don't think he's mentally strong enough. Maybe Basso? Kloden did well last year, but would Ullrich step aside for him to take it? Leipheimer is a good sprinter, but not as good on the climbs.
I can't believe how into this I get every year! :nerd
For anyone who hasn't watched big-time cyling before, it is so much more than just a bunch of guys riding fast. There's so much strategy and intrigue and, I think, beauty in the sport. Those aerial shots of the peleton are just amazing.
With much respect to Lance, I'm finding myself also rooting for T-Mobile and CSC this year. I will most definitely root for Lance and the boys, but I find the dynamics of some of the other teams intriguing. I used to hate T-Mobile/ formerly Telekomm with a passion. They were always so cocky which would lead to self destruction, but now I find them fun to watch.
I think it's possible to see the same top four this year as we did last.:nod I only hope that OLN will pick up extensive coverage of cycling next year as well. For myself, I loved being to able to watch the European classics that would've never been shown on any other channel. I can only read so many issues of Velo News before needing to see a race on tv.:lol
Landis left for Phonak and Roberto Heras left for a new team- Liberty Seguros. Heras was key for Armstong- as he served as the primary domestique in the mountains. Lance this year is also without his new right hand man- Ekimov who wrecked hard in the Dauphne last month.
Other then Lance- i find myself cheering fror someone new everyday- the relative nobody who takes the challenge of breaking away form the peloton early! It's like cheering for the mice against the the pythons. and it's always amazing how calculating the peloton is- they ALWAYS manage to reel in the mice with about 1 KM to go. Courageous ride today by Eric Dekker- he almost made the breakway stand up.
I think Lance's biggest opponent this year is going to be bad luck. Can he stay away from the big crash, the bee sting, the untimely flat tire, etc...
Whoa! Team Discovery wins the team time trial. Lance now will have the yellow jersey. Sadly, Zabriskie fell hard with a kilometer and a half to go. His team had to leave him behind. He lost a ton of time. Hopefully, he'll be able to continue tomorrow.
Thanks Quinn :up Right after I posted the question, I found a site with a list of the team and saw who else had left. Sad to see Ekimov gone too.
I'm happy that Lance got the yellow jersey today but I did feel sorry for Zabriskie. It's not as if he had much of a lead on Armstrong, but that fall was a heartbreaker. He's pretty banged up too (needed stitches) - this may affect the rest of the Tour for him.
You know, normally I don't like one person,team, etc. win everything. This year though, I definitely want to see Lance win it again. It would seem too sad and anti-climactic for him to stick around another year and make a point of saying that this is his last Tour only to lose it. Many of the cyclists who are considered threats to him are young - they can win it another year!